sets on PCs as mobile devices gaining ground
Alan Zisman (c) 2009 First published in Business
Augusut 11-17, 2009 issue #1033
High Tech Office column
The sun has begun to set
on personal computers – at least in Japan, where the PC market has been
shrinking steadily for several years. Instead, Japanese users are
getting their data fix from increasingly capable mobile devices.
of those devices never make it to the North American market, where
users are hampered by relatively low-bandwidth, high-cost data networks.
Ericsson was created in 2001 by its Japanese and Swedish parents to
develop mobile products. It has become the world’s fifth-largest mobile
phonemaker. The company only produces products based on world-standard
GSM technologies – used locally by Rogers/Fido, ignoring the CDMA
networks used by Bell and Telus. It recently launched three
feature-laden models in Canada.
The Xperia X1 ($249 with plan)
is another entry into the smartphone market competing with iPhones,
BlackBerrys and Google android-powered models. Offering built-in Wi-Fi
and GPS, its Windows Mobile interface provides good compatibility with
Microsoft Office file formats and Exchange server mail. The X1 includes
a sleek slide-out keyboard, a big improvement for text entry over many
Windows Mobile models, but it too often requires awkward poking at tiny
onscreen buttons with a stylus.
The super-sharp screen is also a
blessing and a curse: very high resolution for video playback, but
onscreen elements are tiny and most websites squeeze too much onscreen
at a time, resulting in unreadable tiny text requiring excess zooming
Sony Ericsson has added a series of “panels,” providing
an attractive way to quickly access sets of applications. A (small)
variety of additional panels can be downloaded, but there’s no way for
users to create their own.
The other two new units build on
non-phone Sony brands. The W705 Walkman ($149 with plan) adds a
better-than-average music player to a pretty good slider phone. Like
the X1, though, Sony didn’t quite get it right. Accessing the music
player, for instance, is harder than it ought to be. There’s a
dedicated “Walkman” button on the top, but it’s tiny and almost
impossible to press down. The music player is also accessible through
the menu, but buried several layers deep.
The phone uses an odd
connector on the side. For USB connections, AC charging and headphones,
an adapter is included to use a standard set of headphones. A
four-gigabyte Sony memory stick micro-format memory card is included.
Facebook and YouTube applications are built in, along with Wi-Fi, an
FM-radio tuner, and a 3.2-megapixel camera.
My favourite of the
trio is the C905 Cybershot ($249 with plan). While on most phones the
camera is an afterthought, the C905 is more like a digital camera with
a phone grafted on – the 8.1-megapixel camera is arguably the best on
any Canadian mobile device.
Though it lacks an optical zoom, it
offers 16x digital zoom, a flash and a strong digital-camera feature
set: face detection, scene modes and a variety of white-balance and
focusing settings. GPS can be used to geotag photos. An accelerometer
lets you view photos in portrait or landscape orientation.
addition, like the W705 Walkman model it has Wi-Fi, a radio and music
player. Like that model, it also uses the awkward connector on the side
and takes the relatively uncommon memory stick micro cards – a
two-gigabyte storage card is included. Nicely, it’s much easier to
access the C905’s camera than the other model’s Walkman features.
with the Sony-influenced Walkman and Cybershot models, Sony Ericsson
also has a TV-centric Bravia mobile phone-model. But only in Japan.
Looks like we still have some catching up to do before we can do all
our digital business on our mobile phones. •